"According to the Buddha, to develop compassion it is important to consider the human condition on every level: personal, social, and political." Sharon Salzberg
The 28-Day Meditation Challenge is coming to a close and I was really excited to get into a week of Loving Kindness practice.!
In the traditional list of benefits of practicing Loving Kindness, it is not mentioned that the practice can result in a substantial change in perception. The first meditation class I ever attended in 2008 was a Loving Kindness instruction with Sharon Salzberg. I have been doing this practice semi-regularly since then.
The most noticeable benefit to me has been a heightened sense of empathy and a more mature way of reacting to the empathy. I can understand how people’s erratic, inappropriate or strange behavior – behaviors I would not have previously tolerated – are results of some sadness, fear or stuckness. I too am sometimes sad, scared and stuck.
The next step is adjusting my actions. As this practice grows and we notice the suffering of others, we do not always need to address it as much as acknowledge it for ourselves and act compassionately. We don’t have to be heroes in that moment. It is the subtle changes in our reactions that count. My actions may not seem different, but as I release my angry thoughts about someone’s behavior, I see that I do not have to fix that person. Even if I judge the behavior to be erratic or unwise, I can stay for a while, be curious about the person’s actions. I can be present rather than push the person away.
There is space for the other person to exist. I practice Loving Kindness for myself and calm abiding so that I may keep that space in order.
- Meredith Arena